Introducing A Greater Duty, Part 1: How We Got Here

There is still some time before the release of my debut novel, A Greater Duty, but it shouldn’t be too long now. Thus, I believe the time is right to begin introducing this story, the product of over a decade of (on and off) work, to all of you.

As I stated above, the initial spark of what became first this one story, and then the idea for what I plan to be a six book series (with plenty of room to play around in the setting beyond that) started from more than a decade ago, when I was only in 8th grade, from a part of a television show about dinosaurs, where the theoretical dinosauroid (a conceptual vision of how it might’ve looked if the smartest dinosaur species, the Troodon, did not go extinct and evolved over time.) That concept was super cool, and I soon got the idea for a story where a group of Troodons was saved from the mass extinction by aliens, and put into hibernation during which they evolved into bipedal, sapient creatures that then took over Earth before invading the rest of the galaxy.

While I still have those original 60 or so pages I wrote of the story (they will never see the light of day), the story has changed considerably over the several rewrites and many years since. For one, Earth no longer exists in the story’s galaxy, and much of the plot elements have changed, but the primary characters have not (though they have become far more fleshed out and complex), and one of the main character arcs/plot points has remained central to the story. but of course, things have grown much more complex, both because of my revisions and because over time the plan changed from “I have this cool story I want to write” to “I have this cool series I want to write” to “I have this awesome series I want to write, galactic setting I want to build, and a universe worth of fiction to craft.” We can safely say I am ambitious when it comes to my writing.

To continue with the trajectory of the project, some time during high school I stopped writing a lot, due to lack of time, but during my last two years I became interested in it again, taking some writing classes and revisiting this story. But I still had no plan for writing to be my career; it was still just about this one story, and I was still planning to study engineering. That changed after my first semester of college, which was thoroughly un-enjoyable, and I decided then that I wanted to make writing my career. Thus, I naturally switched to an English major with a creative writing focus. I won’t say it was a mistake, as I had one excellent writing teacher for two classes, but all the others were awful, and I even had one of those archetypal “genre fiction isn’t worth reading” teachers, who of course was a bitter failed writer that made his students buy his short story magazine for class. But I pressed on, working on the story, and was finally progressing toward finishing it.

I got more motivation when, at either my first or second JordanCon in Atlanta (I cannot remember at the moment) I, at a pitch critique session, pitched the book as it was at the time, and an editor at Tor Books, then the publisher I dreamed of writing for (oh, how things have changed) expressed interest. Needless to say, I finished the book within a few months, then, after some revision, submitted it directly to him. It would be a year before I received any feedback, but at the convention the next year, he actually sat down with me and gave me some very good feedback, the best I’d received on the book prior to that of Ben Zwycky, who actually edited the book late last year. However, this editor at Tor did not want the book at that point, but was open to seeing my next project, which I was already writing (and I am now in the final editing process of, by the way), so I moved on to that project, apart from some additional revision of the book that would become A Greater Duty.

The next several years were spent working on other projects, and sending out queries to (mainly) literary agents. So a lot of waiting, with nothing to show for it. During that time, I ditched English the major, and did something somewhat more useful, history, earning my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. But this book, and series, didn’t get new life until last winter, a semester before the conclusion of my degree, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out. Now I know I just wrote a whole long post about my issues with Star Wars, but those feelings hadn’t solidified then, and I quite enjoyed Force Awakens. You might even say I was inspired. The night right after I watched the film I sat down and wrote plot synopses for the rest of the series, as well as much of the outline for the sequel to A Greater Duty, in one sitting. By this time, as might be clear, I was already considering publishing the book myself, as I wanted to get my work out there and my issues with the mainstream publishing world were growing. I ended up taking the leap around the same time as I took the other major leap of moving from New York, where I’d lived my whole life, across the ocean to Israel. I should also thank Brian Niemeier for helping this along, as it was after reading a blog post of his, and his advice regarding self-publishing (a reply which later became a blog post itself), that I made the final decision to go all the way with this, and to do it right, hiring a great editor and cover artist.

Fast forward to today. The book is done, the front and back matter essentially ready. The cover art, back cover, and the galaxy map will be done very soon. After that, it’ll be about a week or so until A Greater Duty, at long last, is available to the world.

For now, however, I think this post that’s part history of the book, part history of me, and some rambling, should come to a close. However, I’ll leave one last thing here, the “back cover blurb” for A Greater Duty, to hopefully whet your appetite. (Actual text may change slightly.) So before I leave you with that, I will say that the next post in this series will focus on my creative process regarding the setting, characters, plot, and what exactly I am trying to do here. Beyond that…well you’ll have to wait and find out. Now I’m done for real. Here’s the text.

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“A warrior struggles to prevent the collapse of the civilization he swore to protect. A young grand admiral seeks vengeance. An emotionless conqueror faces a crisis of conscience…and the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance.

After her homeworld suffers a devastating attack, Grand Admiral Nayasar Khariah wants nothing more than vengeance upon the Galactic Alliance, the interplanetary civilization that had previously expelled her people and then refused to punish the organizers of the attack. The chance for vengeance finally comes when she meets Executor Darkclaw, who has been tasked with conquering the Galactic Alliance—followed by everything else in his path—by his master, the all-powerful energy being known only as the High Lord.

Things abruptly change, however, when Darkclaw unexpectedly starts feeling emotions which he does not understand, and finds himself heretically questioning the only purpose he has ever known—irrevocably altering his view of the war he is currently waging.

Meanwhile, within the Galactic Alliance, Second Scion Dalcon Oresh, member of an order dedicated to preserving the Alliance, struggles to stop the Alliance’s bleeding, the source of which may not be entirely external.

Darkclaw’s friendship with Nayasar will be pushed to its breaking point, Nayasar’s relationships with her closest friends and loved ones will be strained as her quest for vengeance becomes more and more a personal obsession, and Dalcon must determine who he can truly trust.

All the while, the imminent existential threat of the High Lord looms over everything, and the key to stopping him, and saving not just the Alliance, but all free peoples, may only be found in the remains of a ancient, powerful race, and the creations they left behind.”

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